Harlingen CISD to roll out Raptor Alert System for active shooter incidents

Jun. 24—HARLINGEN — There's an active shooter at a school.

Mobilize, communicate and engage.

The Uvalde massacre highlights the importance of that priceless tool for the very lack of it in numerous instances. Everyone seems to agree that in such a crisis, all responders must be in continuous communication.

That's why the Harlingen school district this fall will implement the Raptor Alert System. Raptor Alert is part of the Raptor Emergency Manager Application, an app which selected persons and entities can download on any smart phone, iPad or computer.

"It gives us the ability to be aligned 100 percent with the Standard Response Protocol Program," said Danny Castillo, director of emergency management and school safety for the Harlingen school district.

The application will allow all responding entities to be synced up with each other and with the eSchoolPlus system. The powerschool.com website says eSchool makes it easier to manage the entire flow of K-12 district information.

Brianna Vela-Garcia, director of media and public relations for the Harlingen district, said eSchools is a program the school district uses to organize student data and operations related to that.

"Parents, through use of the system, have easy access to their students' information, grades, attendance, etc.," she said.

All of the student data and information, said Castillo, will be accessible in the event of an emergency response activation.

"Everything will be able to be managed directly from these applications," Castillo said.

"Another key thing of this is that it's also integrated directly with our 911 system so that every staff member has the ability in the event of an emergency to dial 911 from that same mobile application."

Castillo was outlining the Raptor Alert system June 7 at a meeting of the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District's Facilities and Safety Committee.

He explained that any user with the application would be able to initiate an alert from any location both on and off campus. Once made, that alert would be immediately delivered to a custom list of recipients which can include administrators, staff members and first responders.

Numerous reports state the Uvalde shooting was rife with communication breakdowns, to include the school district police chief not even having his radios. Castillo and the district are working to ensure that's not the case here.

"This application will also be forward to our first responders in our community, whether it's the Harlingen Police Department or Primera or Combes," he said. "They will have access to the same application. So, in the event we have to handle an emergency response, we will be able to utilize this technology to have that level of communication in real time, with all of our first responders."

A critical quality of this app is real time incident management, he said.

"That's one of the things that often is a huge challenge for any emergency, which is having the level of seamless communication, of timely exchange of information not only within an organization but then also as first responders," he said.

This week Castillo is in San Antonio attending the 2022 Texas School Safety Conference, hosted by the Texas School Safety Center located at Texas State University.

While there he explained in further detail how Raptor Alert would be rolled out.

"We want to make sure we have a responsible roll out of it," he said. "To do that, we want to make sure that our staff are well-trained on the use of the system itself and understand the protocols associated with it. So it's going to be a phased approach this school year."

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